Who makes Sportsmail's combined Arsenal-Manchester City XI?

THREE Gunners defenders, Kevin De Bruyne and Martin Odegaard in midfield, with Riyad Mahrez on the wing… but who else makes Sportsmail’s combined Arsenal-Manchester City XI?

  • Arsenal will face Manchester City in the FA Cup fourth round on Friday evening 
  • The Premier League sides are also in the midst of a Premier League title tussle 
  • Who makes Sportsmail’s combined XI from the two best English sides right now?

By late evening on February 15, the respective seasons of Arsenal and Manchester City could look very different. 

Of course, both will be hoping to go all the way in the Europa League and Champions League respectively, with City in particular desperate to break their duck when it comes to the top continental prize.

But with both already out of the League Cup, their two meetings in four games – in the FA Cup on Friday night before their Premier League clash on February 15 – are likely to be crucial in their battle for domestic supremacy.

Mikel Arteta, former City assistant under current head coach Pep Guardiola, is going head-to-head with his former boss in the battle for glory, with both sides arguably the best two teams in England at the moment.

With that in mind, Sportsmail has named a combined XI – but who makes it into our line-up? 

By February 15, the seasons of Arsenal and Manchester City could look very different

Mikel Arteta (left) and Pep Guardiola (right) are going head-to-head for supremacy

Goalkeeper – Ederson (Man City) 

In net, it’s one of the easier choices in the XI. 

Aaron Ramsdale is a brilliant young player and has been largely excellent this season, but while he may become world-class in future, Ederson is already at that level.

Both have made errors in recent weeks, but both are in the real upper echelon of Premier League stoppers. It’s Ederson for me.

Right back – Kyle Walker (Man City) 

Ben White has been a mainstay in the Arsenal side for almost the entire season, shifting across from centre back to an unfamiliar full back position and linking up very nicely with Bukayo Saka down the right-hand side.

While right back at City has been less of a lock. Walker’s played there, Joao Cancelo has played there, and recently local tyro Rico Lewis has impressed there, too. Walker’s form, in and out of the side amid injury, hasn’t been tip-top.

But his class is as permanent as it is obvious. When fully fit he will likely return to the first team – and White, who may perhaps have a knock, was booked and then taken off at half-time after a tricky first period against Manchester United.

Centre back – William Saliba (Arsenal) 

It was Saliba’s return this summer, after three successive loans in France, that allowed Arteta to move White to right back, given he felt he finally had a player capable of stepping in at centre back.

And the 21-year-old star has managed it superbly. He’s played all but 15 minutes of the 1,710 possible in the Premier League so far this season and although not without mistakes, has impressed with his composure, positioning and ball playing ability.

Not bad for his first year in English football, eh? 

Centre back – Gabriel (Arsenal) 

One of just six outfield players to play every league minute available this campaign (along with Marc Guehi, Ruben Neves, James Ward-Prowse, Declan Rice, Max Kilman and James Tarkowski), Gabriel has turned up time and time again.

At just 25, he is a real leader of the defence, guiding Saliba through tough moments at points, in what has become a stern partnership at the back and even popping up with a couple of goals too.

City’s John Stones, Ruben Dias and Nathan Ake are all extremely talented, of course. But the Gunners duo make it in together. 

William Saliba (left) and Gabriel (right) have formed a fine defensive partnership for Arsenal

Left back – Oleksandr Zinchenko (Arsenal) 

Arguably the most transformative summer signing for the leaders was Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Despite playing 128 times in all competitions in the six seasons at City before his move, there was a sense he never truly managed to nail down a first-team spot, or even a particular role, filling in across numerous positions.

For Arsenal, it’s simple. He’s the No 1 left back, instantly displacing fan favourite Kieran Tierney, who acts as a midfield playmaker, creating overloads and dictating play beautifully. City will regret that he had to leave to discover this stellar form.

While left back Oleksandr Zinchenko has been transformative for the league-leading Gunners

Centre midfield – Martin Odegaard (Arsenal)

Odegaard has gone from a forgotten wonderkid at Real Madrid to one of the division’s best players, and it’s a scintillating transformation even neutrals are loving.

The Arsenal and Norway captain brings so much to the side on the pitch, it seems faintly ridiculous some pundits (including yours truly) may have questioned whether it was worth the club paying around £30m to sign him from the Spanish giants.

Aside from all his technical and leadership skills, he brings genuine joy. To fans, team-mates, and many more beside. He gets the armband in this team, too. 

Defensive midfield – Thomas Partey (Arsenal) 

Sure, Man City’s Rodri has a real argument to get in this team. He’s a wonderful footballer.

But Thomas Partey has rather gone under the radar amid Granit Xhaka’s dramatic resurgence and Odegaard’s evident class. 

Similar technically to Rodri but with stronger physical attributes, he is part of a more obviously performing and balanced trio than City’s rotating cast of Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, and now Kalvin Phillips after his return from injury.

Centre midfield – Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) 

That said, KDB has to be in. He’s KDB. He may have only scored three goals in all competitions this season.

But he has 11 assists – well clear of Bukayo Saka, on seven – and when he plays like he does, it doesn’t matter if you have one or 111 assists.

He is utterly crucial to City, it’s as simple as that.

City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne (right) has laid on the most assists in the division, with 11

Right wing – Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) 

Potentially the second-best player for the best team in England this season (I have Odegaard top). 

Even if Arsenal somehow fall short in the title race, he’ll still be a shoo-in for Young Player of the Season. 

He’s a thrilling free spirit, a rambunctious 21-year-old with the invincibility of youth and it’s impossible not to like him. His goal against United proved – as if it needed proving – his spectacular talent.

Centre forward – Erling Haaland (Man City) 

Gabriel Jesus is good, obviously. But Haaland has his fourth hat-trick of the season. And it’s January. 

While it would be remiss to leave out striker Erling Haaland, who already has 25 league goals

He’s already surpassed last season’s top scorers, Mohamed Salah and Son Heung-min, and their measly, meagre total of 23. 

The Norwegian hotshot could very conceivably reach 50 league goals this year. And at 22 years old, he’s only going to improve.

Left wing – Riyad Mahrez (Man City) 

Sure, we might be slightly shoe-horning Mahrez into the team here, given he’s typically a right winger.

But Saka’s already on that side, and the likes of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish haven’t impressed recently. Gabriel Martinelli could well have made it in on his early-season form, but seems a little quiet recently. And good players adapt no matter the system!

The Algerian has four in his last four league games and – finally – seems to be consistently delivering on the £60m-worth of talent he obviously possesses. Feel free to let me know if you disagree with any choices in the comments though… 

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